The world’s largest high IQ society Mensa believes more than five million children in India have genius-level IQs, but that their potential is never uncovered.
“We are trying to locate uncut diamonds in this whole mine of people who are here and if we can get some we’ll try to polish them up. For those who are selected, their lives will change,” Kishore Asthana, a Mensa scholar with an IQ of 165 tells Dateline’s Calliste Weitenberg.
Kishore hopes IQ tests will uncover a brilliant mind that may otherwise be lost, and is hunting for students with the same IQ as Hillary Clinton (140), Thomas Edison (145), and even the Apollo astronauts (136 average).
Can these child geniuses rise above the poverty of their everyday lives?
Twelve-year-old student Ritu Paswan, says: “I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I know 100 per cent, I can be a doctor.”
Ritu is one of Mensa’s genius scholars with an IQ of 145 – superior intelligence – and comes from a family struggling to make ends meet.
With an IQ of 135, 14-year-old Varsha Kumari is four points short of Neil Armstrong’s IQ, whose footsteps she hopes to follow. However, her father battles an addiction to alcohol and her mother barely earns enough to feed the family. Varsha’s Mensa opportunity hangs in the balance – will she be forced to drop out and work as a maid?
“When I tell Mum, she gets scared because I want to go into space. She doesn’t want me to but I tell her this is what I want,” Varsha says.
Mensa started its search for kids with high IQs a year ago, part of a bigger quest as India hopes to lift itself to become a world leader with bright minds.
Mensa’s hour-long IQ test finds out how gifted these kids are, and those who score above 98 per cent are selected to receive a scholarship to a privileged school, which may pull them out of poverty and change their lives forever.
Tuesday 21 March at 9.30pm on SBS.